I spent a lot of time fantasising about winning the lottery when I was younger.
Daydreaming about how I’d spend the money and how my life would change was a frequent pastime.
At 22, I decided to get real.
Having just discovered the world of personal development, I had my think big hat on.
Full of youthful optimism, I set myself the goal of becoming a millionaire by 30. A decade has passed since setting that goal.
And today, I can share that… dun dun dun… I’m not a millionaire – not even close.
While I’ve made great progress with my financial dreams – I no longer worry about money, and I now have savings and investments – I missed my goal by a longshot.
In hindsight, was my goal realistic? Is it possible to become a millionaire in 10 years? And what does it take?
In today’s post, I want to approach this common goal with a good dose of reality.
Let’s start with some facts and figures…
The Millionaire Facts
So, how many millionaires are there in the UK?
According to independent research from banks and wealth management consultancies, the UK is home to around 715,000 millionaires (about 1% of the population).
However, a more accurate report of Britain’s wealth is the Wealth and Assets Survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
From the 2016-2018 report, we know that there are 3.2 million households with assets of £1million or more.
Assets contributing to each household’s wealth include property, pensions, financial assets (savings accounts, ISAs, shares), and physical investments (artwork, antiques, jewellery).
There are approximately 28 million households in the UK, so 11.4% of British households are millionaire households.
That seems a lot of millionaires, but when you look at wealth on an individual level, very few people have a net worth of £1million or more on their own:
Mean Wealth Vs Age of Household Reference Person (HRP)
From the report, two things are clear…
1. Very few people are millionaires – especially by 30.
This is obvious to me now. But as a worldly inexperienced youth blindly following “guru” advice, I honestly thought that “if I believe, I will achieve”.
That’s not to say that accumulating boatloads of money when you’re young is impossible; it’s just not the norm.
Social media and the fake-it-till-you-make-it world we live in today would have you believe that everyone is uber-rich – not so.
Becoming a millionaire by 30, 40 or even 50 is unusual.
Anyone that’s sitting on a million quid by 30 is an outlier.
The remarkable financial success they’ve achieved is, to the main, not repeatable.
2. As you get older, you generally get wealthier.
Wealth generally increases with age as we pay down our mortgage, our home appreciates, and our pension and other investments grow.
So, the best chance you have of becoming a millionaire is to follow sound financial advice – live below your means, save as much as possible, invest as much as you can, and start as soon as possible – from the day you start earning until the day you retire.
And even then, becoming a millionaire is not guaranteed.
That’s the unsexy truth.
But surely there’s got to be a shortcut or a secret? Well, the Wealth and Assets Survey figures are based on the average Brit.
And anyone that’s pursuing FIRE and squirrelling away more than the average saver stands a better chance of becoming a millionaire and doing it much quicker.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Millionaire?
If you invested £200-£300 each month, you might accumulate a million-pound nest egg in 50-60 years.
Five decades of patiently investing is probably not the answer you were hoping for.
So, what if you invested more each month? Let’s work it out.
If you invested in the stock market and achieved the long-term average return of 7%, to become a millionaire, you’d have to save and invest:
- £100 per month for 61 years
- £250 per month for 48 years
- £500 per month for 38 years
- £1,000 per month for 29 years
- £2,000 per month for 21 years
And if you wanted to become a millionaire in 10 years, you’d have to save £6,035 per month!
Socking away £6,035 a month is out the question for, well, pretty much everyone.
So, unless your YouTube channel blows up, you get in early on the next Bitcoin, or rich aunt Maggie passes away and leaves you an unexpected windfall, becoming a millionaire in 10 years isn’t likely to happen.
Sorry to burst your bubble. The good news?
It’s still possible to become a millionaire in your lifetime.
And you could do it in under 30 years. If you saved an average of £1,000 a month starting at age 20, you’d be a millionaire in your 50’s.
Now, I know saving £1,000 a month is a pipe dream for most 20-year olds, but that’s the average amount to be saved.
You might not be able to save anywhere near this amount to begin with.
But as your career advances and you earn more, you’ll likely be able to save £1,000 or more every month (between pension contributions, other investments, and paying down your mortgage).
What’ll help you grow your wealth is focusing on the factors within your control.
The Factors Within Your Control
Hard work, dedication, and discipline are, of course, prerequisites for becoming a millionaire.
Besides these traits, there are other things you have power over that determine how fast you build your wealth.
1. Your Savings Rate
We all know we should save more, but there’s not often a great incentive for doing so.
But if your goal is a seven-digit net worth, then finding ways to save another £100 or £200 a month will bring your goal forward by years – there’s your motivation.
Finding an extra £100 to save could be as easy as eating out less or cycling to work.
If you want to boost your savings rate further, look for ways to reduce the cost of the big 3: housing, transportation, and food.
Once you’ve made all the cutbacks possible, turn your attention to earning more.
2. When You Start Investing
The earlier you start investing, the greater your chances of becoming a millionaire.
That’s because compound interest (when you earn interest on the interest you’ve already earned) has longer to work its magic.
And when you combine compound interest with regular injections of capital, you’re going to witness incredible growth in your investments.
So, start investing as soon as you can, even if it’s only £10 a month.
3. The Return On Investment You Can Achieve
The dream-shattering math we did earlier revealed we need to save £6,035 per month to become a millionaire in 10 years.
BUT, that was based on a return of 7%. If you could achieve a greater return, then you don’t need to save as much.
Achieving a 10% ROI requires saving £5,230 per month to reach a net worth of £1million in 10 years.
If you could achieve a 15% ROI, the amount you have to save drops to £4,105.
And if you’re an investing whizz that can achieve a 20% ROI, you only need to save £3,215 per month.
Learning investing strategies might allow you to beat the market, and there are other investments that can perform better than the share market.
This one’s a bit woo-woo but hear me out. I’ve read a few personal development books over the years.
A lot of it is hype, but some stuff is incredibly valuable – even life-changing.
A valuable tidbit I got from personal development is having an awareness of your beliefs and how you came to understand them as true.
You see, the belief systems that you adopt at an early age can shape your entire life.
How this relates to wealth building is that if you believe you’re not good with money, or you don’t deserve to be rich, or that rich people are greedy, you’ll subconsciously block all your opportunities to become rich.
If you come into a significant windfall, you won’t be able to keep it.
Or if you start earning a good salary, you’ll spend everything you make.
If you hold limiting beliefs about money, you can change them through affirmations, positive visualisation, coaching, and changing your environment to one that’s welcoming of wealth.
You might not think it, but your mindset could be your roadblock to millions.
Wrapping It Up
Becoming a millionaire in 10 years is possible, although, it’s unlikely for the average person. But to save 100k is certainly much more within the realms of possibility.
If you were to get there through good ol’ saving and investing, you’d have to save a significant part of every wage and/or be a talented investor.
Becoming a millionaire through building a business, launching an app, or being discovered for talent might happen quicker, but it’s less certain.
For the best possible chance of reaching the big M, my advice would be to save hard, invest wisely, and focus on what you can control.